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Title: Obesity stigma in young children
Author: Rowlinson, Madaleine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2709 9434
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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The prevalence of obesity has increased over recent years but obesity stigma remains widespread. The main aim of this study was to examine whether the hypothesised rejection of fatness by young children is specific to overweight or common to other visible difference. Whether the body size of the character’s peer group moderates or accentuates the rejection was also examined. One hundred and fifty, four to six year old school children (79 girls, 71 boys, mean age of 5 years and 7 months), were individually interviewed. The main character was presented in a story as either overweight, in a wheelchair or average weight. The character’s peer group was also varied in weight. Two methods were used to evaluate the character’s perceived attributes. The main and comparison characters were rated on five point scales. Then participants chose which character was most likely to possess the attribute. Participants also made a friendship choice. Forced choice attribute questions showed a preference for the average weight over the overweight character for happiness with her looks, number of friends, likelihood of receiving party invites, being good at school work and likelihood of winning a race. The character in a wheelchair was also rejected but on fewer attributes. Ratings showed significant differences on similar attributes but the mean scores were neutral or positive, rather than negative. On the friendship choice between the overweight and average weight characters children rejected the overweight character. The weight of the character’s peer group was also found to affect perceptions of the main character. Young children perceive and evaluate obesity differently to other visible difference but not overwhelmingly negatively. Peer relationships appear to be the attribute most affected. Social context also appears to be important at this age. The way in which children are asked to make judgements appears to affect the degree of negativity.
Supervisor: Hill, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available